The two were vying for the same position and Jesus’s stance drove a wedge between them
Simon Peter is today the most famous of Jesus’s disciples. As an apostle, he is overall only second to Paul in prominence. Yet in Jesus’s day, he did not enjoy the prestige he does today. Peter was impetuous, with a combustible temperament. Even later in the noon of his life when he was the prime mover in the founding of the church of Rome, his methods were crude and unorthodox, an echo of the exact manner in which he related to Jesus. In the Josephus corpus, where he is referred to as Simon Bar Giora, his bare-knuckle ecclesiastical approach is well-documented.
Peter easily picked up quarrels with his boss, Jesus, and hated women who were frequently in Jesus’s entourage – such as Mary Magdalene, for instance – like the plague. In the apocryphal Gospel of Phillip, he is quoted as saying, “Women are not worthy of life”.
Yet for all his eccentricities, a tender and long-suffering Jesus loved and prized him essentially for two reasons. First, he was resolute, a go-getter. Second, he was very dedicated to Jesus and was a great crusader. He was a riveting, if propagandistic public speaker. Third, and perhaps most importantly, he was Jesus’s chief bodyguard. His major weaknesses other than those cited above was that he was fickle, operated on a very short fuse, and could be curt and confrontational. As Jesus’s principal minder, he was always armed as even the gospels indicate. His generally uncouth behavior stemmed from his being, like his brother Andrew, a uneducated simple villager.
Like Judas Iscariot, Simon Zealotes, and Theudas Barabbas, Simon Peter was a Zealot. We know this both from his affinity for arms (the sword) and his very name. He was sometimes hilariously referred to as Simon Bar-Jona (MATTHEW 16:17), wrongly translated in the doctored modern versions of the New Testament as “Simon son of John”. Bar-Jona, however, derives from the Aramaic word “Baryona”, meaning “outlaw” or “terrorist”. Zealots were referred to as terrorists by the Romans as well as peace-loving Jews.
The gospels seem to suggest that Jesus designated Simon Peter as the bedrock of his church, the reason he gave him a new surname “Peter” or “Cephas”, both of which mean “rock”. Whilst it is true that Jesus did proclaim Peter as his evangelical heir (his designated dynastic heir was his third-born brother Joses), the name Peter could have been conferred on the basis of his tough-man demeanour (a “Rocky” in today’s language) or his being Jesus’s metaphorical rock, that is, his main protector as bodyguard.
Simon Peter and Andrew were originally disciples of John the Baptist. After Jesus’s split from the Baptist, Jesus lured them to join him particularly that they were compulsive evangelists. Andrew for one may not have been as rousing a public figure as Peter but he was a dynamic soul-winner. He was always bringing people to Jesus to meet him on a one-on-one basis.
THE SONS OF “THUNDER”
Like Andrew and Peter, James and John were brothers and the youngest of the 12. They were Hebraised Romans, having been born as illegitimate kids to Julia, Caesar Augustus’s only natural daughter, and brought up in Judea. The names John and James were either acquired or ascribed. Their real names were Aquila (John) and Niceta (James). The Aquila you read about in Acts, whose wife was Priscilla, was actually John (he was not killed by the “Holy Spirit” through Simon Peter as the English translation suggests: in pesher, the term “kill” sometimes means “excommunicate” or “demote”, which is what actually happened to Aquila and Priscilla).
Of the two factions in the Jesus party, John and James initially were loyal to the “Lightning” faction, the one headed by Simon Zealotes. This is because they were his adopted sons, having been sold to his mistress Helena-Salome by Julia through a middle man slave trader when they were young. Simon Zealotes also went by the name Zebedee, meaning “My Gift”.
Hence, James and John were alternatively addressed as the “Sons of Zebedee”). Later, when Jonathan Annas (Nathaniel) became the Father (that is, the chief Essene priest) after the demotion of Simon Zealotes, James and John switched their allegiance to him. Nathaniel was the leader of the “Thunder” faction in the Jesus party and so James and John accordingly became the “Sons of Thunder” after Nathaniel designated them as his spiritual sons.
Curiously, James and John were senior to Peter and Andrew when it came to baptismal roles despite their being Gentiles. James and John were ordained “fishers”, whereas Peter and Andrew were lay “fishermen”. These terms do not carry the meaning popularly attributed to them – that of people whose trade was catching literal fish. It was all imagery, part of the Essene’s secret jargon.
“Fish’ was a term for celibate Gentiles, who when they were being baptised had to be hauled up in large nets onto a boat stationed on the Dead Sea not far from the shore. The “Fishers” were the priests who conducted the baptism, a class to which John and James belonged, and the “Fishermen “(a category in which Peter and Andrew fell) were those who aided the baptismal candidates into the boat. When Jesus told Andrew and Peter upon “poaching” them from John the Baptist that “Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men”, all he simply meant was that he would in due course promote them to baptismal priests.
Peter, Andrew, James, and John constituted the quartet who accompanied Jesus on evangelical missions much of the time as being without executive duties like the sort the Top 6 we talked about last week had, they had plenteous time to spare. Noting that Jesus seemed to gravitate more to Peter and Andrew, Helena-Salome, the step mother of John and James, at one time set out to promote them to Jesus as his two left and right-hand pillars in a liberated Kingdom of Israel (Helena-Salome also took account of the fact that she was related to Jesus as we shall demonstrate in due course). Jesus’s response was that that recommendation had to come from the “Father” of the day, who at the time was Nathaniel.
BERT AND PHIL The two leading Gentiles in the Jesus party were Bartholomew and Phillip. According to the secular Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, Bartholomew’s real name was Eutychus, a name by which he appears in certain passages in the gospels. As an evangelist, however, he was known as John Marcus. It was he who sponsored the gospel according to Mark. He was very close to Simon Peter and in due course became his evangelical deputy, and not his “disciple” as some historians wrongly document.
In his first epistle, Simon Peter refers to John Marcus as “my son” (1 PETER 5:13). As we have already pointed out, “son” often meant “deputy” or “would-be successor”. John Marcus was also useful in Paul’s ministry (2 TIMOTHY 4:11) although initially the two had a tumultuous relationship. His nickname of Bartholomew (meaning “servant of Ptolemy”) derived from the fact that he was attached to the influential Egyptian Theraputae at Qumran. Ptolemy was a Greek general who took over Egypt following the death of Alexander the Great.
Phillip was one of Jesus’s favourite disciples and a keen evangelist. In the Jesus party, he belonged to the Thunder faction and was very close to Nathaniel as a result.
So what characteristics do we see about the 12 principal assistants of Jesus Christ? They were a mixed bunch. They comprised of Zealots (Judas Iscariot, Simon Magus, Theudas Barabbas, and Simon Peter); aristocrats (Nathaniel, Matthew, and Thomas); Gentiles (James, John, Phillip, and Mark); intellectuals (Judas Iscariot); simple village men (Simon Peter and Andrew); and Samaritans (Simon Magus and Theudas Barabbas). The senior six, headed by Simon Zealotes, were Jesus’s associates, whereas the junior six, headed by Simon Peter, were his disciples (ministerial students) proper.
JUDAS COURTS JESUS
Now that Jesus had been baptised by John the Baptist (that is, commissioned into service as a public ministry rabbi), it was decided that he be initiated into deeper Essene secrets. The most sacred Essene secret was that of Gnosis. Gnosis was not availed to everybody just because they were Essenes: it was imparted only to a select few, those in the higher echelons.
Gnosis is the term from which the English word knowledge is derived. But Gnosis was not simply ordinary knowledge or any kind of knowledge for that matter: it was knowledge about metaphysics and the spirit world, also called the Kingdom of God. Gnosis taught that not only was man primarily spirit but he was also a god in that his spirit was a fragment from the very essence of the real God.
Thus even when he was in this physical world, man was capable of visiting the spirit world, a phenomenon known as astral projection. The spirit world could be accessed through the Third Eye, also known as the Eye of the Needle. This is the 6th chakra, located behind the forehead between the physical eyes. People who do not know the importance of the 6th Chakra “perish for lack of knowledge” (HOSEA 4:6), that is, lack of Gnosis primarily.
The person who was to initiate Jesus into Gnosis was Judas Iscariot, who was the authority on the subject along with Simon Zealotes. The familiar image of Judas is that of the very scum of the Earth but in his time, he was a very highly regarded and respected figure. Judas was the Essenes’ chief scribe by virtue of his encyclopaedic knowledge. Initiates into Gnosis were subjected to intensive instruction at Qumran (referred to as the “wilderness” in the gospels) after which a rigorous test was administered to them by Judas. It was something akin to a test one is subjected to when defending a thesis or dissertation but before a one-man panel. Since Judas conducted these tests, he was called the Satan.
The word Satan had several meanings. Depending on the context, it could mean accuser (one example of which was when Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Get behind me Satan” [MATTHEW 16:23]); adversary; or what we today call a devil’s advocate – that is, somebody whose duty is to broach the worst scenarios possible as food for strategic thought. Another meaning was that of a “lie detector”. The latter was in fact the original meaning of the style Satan (Set-En, meaning “Truth Lord”, a role played by Enki’s great grandson Set after he defected from the Enkite clan and joined the Enlilite clan. Enlil, the Jehovah of the Bible, assigned him to test those who were changing loyalties from the Enkite faction to the Enlite faction so as to ensure they were not undercover agents of the Enkites.)
Judas was called Satan because his role was akin to that of a Truth Lord, to test initiates into Gnosis with a view to ensure they were well-grounded in it and also that they would not be susceptible to betraying the secrets they had been taught. According to the gospels, the instruction took 40 days but that is just a symbolic manner: it in all probability took longer than that and entailed abstinence from eating at certain intervals.
When testing Jesus, however, Judas decided to make political capital out of this closed-door opportunity. Although he was tipped to be Chancellor of the Exchequer in an independent Israel as well a Jewish-ruled world empire, Judas wasn’t content with such a position as it was effectively No. 3. He wanted the position of High Priest. In AD 29, the de facto Essene High Priest, a dynastic position, was John the Baptist and was tipped to be the universal High Priest in an independent Israel. But signs were that very soon the Baptist would be toppled and the three frontrunners for his position were Simon Zealotes, Nathaniel, and Judas himself, considering that the Baptist had no heirs.
Since Jesus was the future King of Israel and global emperor and therefore carried enormous clout potentially, Judas decided to elicit from him mutually beneficial favours. First, he asked for endorsement for the position of Essene High Priest, that is, that of “Arch-Angel Michael”. Judas would in return elevate Jesus from his present position as the “Sariel”, which was 3rd, to that of “Moses”, also called “Angel Gabriel”, which was 2nd.
Second, Judas promised to appoint Jesus as the “Son” if Jesus supported him as Pope once the Baptist was ousted. Jesus had been the Son (the deputy to the Father/Pope that was the Baptist) but John the Baptist had given that position to James, his younger brother, after the split. Finally, Judas said he would rally behind Jesus as the King of Israel and emperor of the world at the expense of James, who now was a contender, if Jesus in turn supported him for the position of national High Priest. This effectively would make Jesus Judas’s No.2, just as the Iranian President is subordinate to the Ayatollah, the spiritual leader of the entire nation.
Jesus politely turned down all the three propositions by Judas. First, Nathaniel was the rightful linear successor to the Baptist as Pope (an elective position). Second, Judas did not qualify to be the Essene High Priest or national High Priest as he was not a descendent of Aaron although he was a Levite. Thirdly and most importantly, Jesus himself was aiming at combining the positions of High Priest and King as he was both a descendent of David (from his father’s side) and a descendent of Aaron (from his mother’s side).
Judas was wroth. From that point onwards, he nurtured a deep-seated bitterness towards Jesus that largely accounted for the infamous betrayal four years later. The exchanges between the two are recorded in the sections of the synoptic gospels commonly referred to as the Temptation (MATTHEW 4:1-11; MARK 1:12-13; and LUKE 4:1-13). The exact nature of the conversation is encrypted and can only be deciphered using the pesher device courtesy of its discoverer Dr Barbara Theiring.
The world in which we live is a criminally unequal one. In his iconic 1945 allegorical novella, Animal Farm, a satire on the facetiousness of the then Soviet Empire’s crackbrained experiment with a command economy, the legendary George Orwell in my view hit the nail squarely on the head when he said all animals were equal but some animals were more equal than others.
That’s the never-ending dichotomy of the so-called First World and its polar opposite, the so-called Third World as Orwell’s cleverly-couched diatribe applies as much to the tread-of-the-mill laissez faire economics of our day as it did to Marxist-Leninist Russia a generation back.
Even as the Nation of Israeli braced to militarily take possession of the Promised Land, General, its top three senior citizens, namely Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, were not destined to share in this god-conferred bequest. All three died before the lottery was won.
Financial Reporting (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and Accountants (Amendment) Bill, 2020 were expeditiously passed by parliament on Thursday.
What are these two Bills really about? The Bills are essentially about professional values that are applicable to auditors and accountants in their practice. The Bills seeks to basically enhance existing laws to ensure more uprightness, fairness, professional proficiency, due care, expertise and or professional technical standards.
The Financial Reporting Act, 2010 (FRA) establishes the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA), as the country’s independent regulator of the accounting and auditing profession. BAOA is responsible for the oversight and registration of audit firms and certified auditors of public interest entities.
In the same vein, there is the Accountants Act, 2010 establishing the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) which is responsible for the registration and regulation of the accounting and auditing profession. This consequently infers that some auditors have to register first with BICA as certified auditors, and also with BAOA as certified auditors of public bodies. So, the Bills sought to avert the duplication.
According to Minister Matsheka, the duplication of efforts in the regulation of auditors, which is done by both BICA and BAOA, creates a substantial gap on oversight of certified auditors in Botswana, as the two entities have different review procedures. He contends that the enforcement of sanctions becomes problematic and, thus, leads to offenders going Scot-Free, and audit quality standards also continue to plunge.
The Financial Reporting (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the view of the Minister, brings the oversight and regulation of all auditors in Botswana under the jurisdiction of the Accountancy Oversight Authority and that Bringing all auditors within one roof, under the supervision of BAOA would therefore reinforce their oversight and significantly enhance accountability.
He also pointed that the Bill broadens the current mandate of the Authority by redefining public interest entities to include public bodies, defined as boards, tribunals, commissions, councils, committees, other body corporate or unincorporated established under any enactment.
This covers any company in which government has an equity shareholding. In order to enable the process of instituting fitting sanctions against violation of its provisions, the Bill clearly lays down acts and lapses that constitute professional misconduct.
This Bill further strengthens the sanctions for breach of the Act by public interest entities, officers, firms, and certified auditors. Reinforcing the law with respect to such sanctions will act as an effective deterrent for breach of the Act.
The Accountants Bill also strengthens the current mandate of the Institute by making it obligatory for those who provide accountancy services in Botswana to register with the Institute, and for all employers to hire accountants who are registered with the Institute.
The Minister reasons that in line with the spirit of citizen empowerment, this Bill proposes reservation of at least 50% of the Council membership for citizens. This, he says, is to empower citizens and ensure that citizenries play an active role in the affairs of the Institute, and ultimately in the development of the accounting profession in Botswana.
The Bills come at a point when Botswana’s financial sector is in a quagmire. The country has been blacklisted by the European Union. Its international rankings on Corruption Perception Index have slightly reduced. According to recent reports by Afro Barometer survey, perceptions of corruption in the public service have soured and so is mistrust in public institutions.
Rating agencies, Standard Poor’s and Moody’s have downgraded Botswana, albeit slightly. The reasons are that there continues to be corruption, fiscal and revenue crimes such as money laundering and general unethical governance in the country. There are still loopholes in many laws despite the enactments and amendments of more than thirty laws in the last two years.
One of the most critical aspect of enhancing transparency and accountability and general good governance, is to have a strong auditing and accounting systems. Therefore, such professions must be properly regulated to ensure that public monies are protected against white color crime. It is well known that some audit firms are highly unprincipled.
They are responsible for tax avoidance and tax evasions of some major companies. Some are responsible for fraud that has been committed. They are more loyal to money paid by clients than to ethical professional standards. They shield clients against accountability. Some companies and parastatals have collapsed or have been ruined financially despite complementary reports by auditors.
In some cases, we have seen audit firms auditing parastatals several times to almost becoming resident auditors. This is bad practice which is undesirable. Some auditors who were appointed liquidators of big companies have committee heinous crimes of corruption, imprudent management, fraud and outright recklessness without serious consequences.
There is also a need to protect whistleblowers as they have been victimized for blowing the whistle on impropriety. In fact, in some cases, audit firms have exonerated culprits who are usually corrupt corporate executives.
The accounting and auditing professions have been dominated by foreigners for a very long time. Most major auditing firms used by state entities and big private sector companies are owned by foreigners. There has to be a deliberate plan to have Batswana in this profession.
While there are many Batswana who are accountants, less are chartered accountants. There must be deliberate steps to wrestle the profession from foreigners by making citizens to be chartered. It is also important to strengthen the Auditor General. The office is created by the constitution.
The security of tenure is clearly secured in the constitution. However, this security of tenure was undermined by the appointing authority in many instances whereby the Auditor General was appointed on a short-term contract. The office is part of the civil service and is not independent at all.
The Auditor General is placed, in terms of scale, at Permanent Secretary level and is looked at as a peer by others who think they can’t be instructed by their equivalent to comply. Some have failed to submit books of accounts for audits, e.g. for special funds without fear or respect of the office. There is need to relook this office by making it more independent and place it higher than Permanent Secretaries.